Dear Chancellor Syverud,
I am writing to express outrage that there is any suggestion of sanctioning the students sitting in at the administration building, and that they are being denied access to legal counsel. These actions actually emphasize the importance of their cause. They are bringing to light very thoughtful concerns about the current atmosphere here, as decisions are made behind the backs of students and faculty, student voices are not taken seriously, and societally marginalized students are feeling further marginalized at Syracuse University.
Some of the protesting students I know personally. Others I have met as I have observed their protests, and after consideration, have proudly joined in support. I have welcomed students to my class to address their concerns to fellow students, and have been impressed with their knowledge, articulateness and commitment. I have experienced their dedicated research of the issues, polite address to all they encounter, deep appreciation for support of all kinds, and careful efforts to democratically express their multiple concerns as a coalition (a very difficult process, as anyone engaged in participatory democracy would attest). When I have been at the administration building, they have reminded everyone to be considerate of the people who have offices in the building. They are not a disruptive force, and I admire their refusal to consent to the dismantling of many parts of the institution that they and their predecessors worked hard for in order to make Syracuse University a place that respects social justice, democracy, and human rights. I stand with them in this care for the future of our university.
When I first heard you speak I was impressed with your advice that all faculty need to know their students. I would respectfully suggest that if you knew these students, their very well-studied concerns and peaceful tactics, you would not consider punishment. Please get to really know these admirable models of dedication and scholarship.
Please resume negotiations, continue to grant immunity until negotiations are complete, and allow them access to the legal counsel.
Diane R. Swords, PhD
Syracuse University Part-time Instructor
Syracuse University Alumna
Syracuse Community Member